The Guardian review

by Michael Billington

The timing is perfect. Forty years after the first manned orbit of the earth Robert Lepage brings us a one-man show about space exploration. But, being a Lepage show, it is as much about inner as outer space. Part of its magic lies in its combination of emotional fervour and technical wizardry.

In a sense two stories are being told. On a public level Lepage recalls the competitive Soviet-American moon-race, which he sees largely as an exercise in national vanity. In the private sphere, Lepage tells of two warring Quebec brothers brought together by their mother's death. One is a shy philosopher struggling with a thesis on the influence of space exploration on popular culture; the other is a gay, extrovert TV weatherman who takes a pragmatic view of the galaxy's mysteries. And, just as the 1975 joint Apollo-Soyuz mission brought together the rival nations, so the fractious brothers are finally reconciled.

The ingenious effects, however, are always at the service of an idea: in particular, that contraries can be synthesised and that emotional loss can be turned into spiritual gain. The most affecting scenes are those in which Lepage shows the two brothers coping in different ways with their mother's death. The introspective Philippe nervously dons her dress while the bumptious weatherman goes down to the gym. Just as they are harmonised, so too Lepage suggests that all life is about the reconciliation of apparent opposites. In one scene he suggests that even doctor and patient are two sides of the same moon.

Lepage, as performer, not only taps into his own multi-facetedness but even revealed, on the first night, a surprising ability to deal with a heckler. Technically this is a one-man show, but it is reinforced by the poignant mystery of Laurie Anderson's music, by Pierre Bernier's puppeteering skill and by the proficiency of numerous technicians. After recent disappointments, this is Lepage at his very best, showing his talent for forging unexpected connections and appealing simultaneously to hearts and minds.